OBJECTIVE: To examine the association between warfarin treatment and longitudinal outcomes after ischemic stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation in community practice. DESIGN: Observational study. SETTING: Hospitals (n=1487) participating in the Get With The Guidelines (GWTG)-Stroke program in the United States, from 2009 to 2011. PARTICIPANTS: 12 552 warfarin naive atrial fibrillation patients admitted to hospital for ischemic stroke and treated with warfarin compared with no oral anticoagulant at discharge, linked to Medicare claims for longitudinal outcomes. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE) and home time, a patient centered outcomes measure defined as the total number of days free from institutional care after discharge. A propensity score inverse probability weighting method was used to account for all differences in observed characteristics between treatment groups. RESULTS: Among 12 552 survivors of stroke, 11 039 (88%) were treated with warfarin at discharge. Warfarin treated patients were slightly younger and less likely to have a history of previous stroke or coronary artery disease but had similar severity of stroke as measured by the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale. Relative to those not treated, patients treated with warfarin had more days at home (as opposed to institutional care) during the two years after discharge (adjusted home time difference 47.6 days, 99% confidence interval 26.9 to 68.2). Patients discharged on warfarin treatment also had a reduced risk of MACE (adjusted hazard ratio 0.87, 99% confidence interval 0.78 to 0.98), all cause mortality (0.72, 0.63 to 0.84), and recurrent ischemic stroke (0.63, 0.48 to 0.83). These differences were consistent among clinically relevant subgroups by age, sex, stroke severity, and history of previous coronary artery disease and stroke. CONCLUSIONS: Among ischemic stroke patients with atrial fibrillation, warfarin treatment was associated with improved long term clinical outcomes and more days at home. CLINICAL TRIAL REGISTRATION: Clinical trials NCT02146274.
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